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How to Measure Material Thickness for Rivet Installation

Determining Rivet Length

Blind rivets, often called POP rivets, serve a simple purpose in the fastening world: to fasten materials together while having access to only one side. That is how they came to be known as “blind rivets” since you’re attaching the rivet blind to whatever may be on the other side of your workpiece. Though efficient, this type of installation can cause problems when selecting a rivet to use.

Why is having access to one side of a material a problem?

The length of a rivet determines its effective grip range, or how much material it can effectively hold together. Having access to both sides of a material allows a user to easily install and gauge the size of the fastener they need. If you don’t have access to the opposite side of the rivet installation material, it can be a real pain to pick the right rivet.

Issues Caused by Only Seeing One Side of an Installation Material

  1. Impossible to use a traditional nut and bolt
  2. Cannot determine material thickness because the blind side material thickness is not known
  3. Often leads to users trying multiple grip lengths until they find one that works
measuring material thickness when only one side is available

Determining Material Thickness

In the event of needing to fasten one material to another with a rivet, it is relatively easy to determine thickness. The problem is determining thickness when you cannot access the back of both materials.

Many users will resort to using a multi-grip rivet at this point, as it serves as a best-case option for going in blind. While there is nothing wrong with multi-grip rivets, they are not always the best answer and can still not cover the thickness needed, or be suitable for every application.

Measuring Material Thickness with Access to Both Sides

Material thickness can be easily measured when you have access to both sides. All you have to do is place the two materials against each other and measure them with a tape measure or caliper, or measure both materials on their own and add them together: Material 1 + Material 2 = Material Thickness. For example, if both materials are 1/4″ thick, then you’ll need a rivet that can 1/2″ thick of material. Once you have the material thickness, you can figure out the grip of rivet you need.

Measuring Material Thickness without Access to Both Sides

What You’ll Need
  • A Drill
  • A Pencil/Marker
  • A Rivet Diameter
  • A Drill Bit
  • 1 Nail with the head smaller than the diameter of the drill bit.
determining rivet length
Determining the Thickness
  1. The first step is to line your materials up and determine where you will be putting a rivet.
  2. Mark that spot and use the drill bit to drill through both materials.
  3. With the hole drilled, take the nail and insert it head side first.
  4. Pull up on the nail and begin pulling it back out. It will catch on the inside material.
  5. Then, take the pencil/marker and mark the exposed portion of the nail where it enters the drilled hole.
  6. Now stop pulling the nail up and remove it from the hole.
  7. Using a tape measure or caliper, measure from under the head of the nail to the mark. That number is your material thickness.

Conclusion

Using the thickness, we can determine the grip that we will need. For example, the hole is 3/16 of an inch in diameter, and the measurement from the nail is 0.30 inches. This means that we would need a 6-6 rivet, which has a 3/16 inch diameter and a 0.251 – 0.375 inch grip range.

A best practice is to choose a rivet with a grip range that your total material thickness falls within, without being at the minimum or maximum of that grip range. Following the example previously, a material thickness of 0.30 inches falls comfortably within the 0.251 – 0.375 inch grip range of our chosen pop rivet. This practice can help ensure tensile and shear strength of the blind rivet and improve its overall longevity.

For an added bonus, check out our Rivet Measuring Guide view rivet diameters and grips to determine the number rivet you need.


How to Measure Material Thickness For Rivet Installation
How to Measure Material Thickness For Rivet Installation Transcript

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Bob: Welcome back to Albany County Fasteners – Fasteners 101. I’m Bob, today we’re going to show you how to measure two pieces of material to receive a rivet. So let’s get started.

So everybody’s asking “how do I measure material, in place, on a jobsite? How do I measure the two pieces of material for a rivet?” We’re gonna demonstrate to you here how to do it.

Let’s just look at this as if it’s in place, and you can’t see the backside, but we’ll show you the backside. All you need is a nail or a screw, a flathead screw. Something that has some type of lip on it that you can grab the backside with. That’s what we’re looking for.

You would put the nail in the hole and you just pull it. Then you take a sharpie or a marker and just pull on it, and then put a mark on you nail. You see, there’s the mark. Take a caliper or tape measure and then you would measure it. This comes out to about 0.478”.

You can then find a rivet within that grip range. This is an 8-8. This grip range is between a quarter inch and a half inch. We needed 0.479″ which falls in that range. This rivet goes between 0.25″ and 0.50”. So I’m gonna slide it in. Take my tool, and I’m going to show you that this will work perfectly.

There you go. It’s installed. The proper size. And that’s how you measure product when you can’t get to the other side.

Thanks for watching.

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